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The story of Ken
I always ask myself why a breath from this air, this place, makes me so alive. The smell of the sweat. The smell of the metal clanging on wood or steel. The smell of the suffocation and the broken teeth from a clinch that never pulled out the way that you wanted to.
Placing my fist on the firm sparring match sent the same thrill through my spine. I have fallen on the familiar padding so many times that I have given up on counting. It might be easier to just say a thousand, since at least I have the mental capacity to count that low. Yet, no matter how many times I fallen back down to this floor, it is still such a thrill to stand back up.
That split second of reconnecting your eyes with someone across the room, never guessing the reaction that they may have once you are back up. Some are disappointed, some are proud. There are times when you see fear. Never could understand why there would sometimes be fear. Maybe it’s because I always had that guilty pleasure pouring from my eyes.
This is not a gym to come and work out, to stretch out or jog around. This is a dojo.
That thought always runs through my head every time I would head down to the MMA gym. I never went to train, I usually just spar. This was mostly because I never take any classes, and I have a legitimate reason, and it was because I was broke. I can’t pay for classes. So why do I always go back to get beaten up? Maybe I am a sadist? Maybe because I have no idea what I should be doing with my life at the moment. Maybe I’m thinking too much over a simple thing? Maybe the thoughts run to rampart when nothing is really happening?
No matter what goes on in my head, what reason I justify or condemn one at a time, the fact is I love going to the dojo to spar, perking in me a small smile as I ride the bus to Chinatown, and maybe today that is where I leave my reasoning. I go there because I love to spar. Or is it because I love to fight?
It still gives an exciting chill when I enter through the glass doors, to drop my shoes off at the rack and change into some loose fitting sparring clothes. The routine is so simple, so mundane, but it some how gets me refreshed as I stretch out on the mat.
I’m surprise that the staff have not banned me from coming back, considering I free load through the building as if I own the place, yet never paid a cent for any of the classes that they have. Certainly there are a handful that would loved to have thrown me out with their own bare hands, had it not for the fact that I would always throw them out first. With great, humiliating pleasure.
I spent fifteen minutes stretching out my forearms, leading into stretching my traps. Couple jumps, shaken loose before stretching my legs for fifteen minutes. Another fifteen minutes was given to my back, with some gleeful delights at the sound of pops from every twist. Midway into my second back stretch the door was opened by three of the staff, and as luck would have it they were the the particular staff that always try to throw me out of the dojo.
They walked at me with their ‘gangster trio’ walk. I honestly don’t know if that is a real description, but I was lost for words watching them try to be intimidating. One of them took his shirt off and slipped into his Under Armor sweater, shaking his arms and flexing as much as he could. The truth is, he was in pretty good shape and he didn’t need to show off his arms. In my mind, the flexing was because he had a ten to two losing record with me.
“Hunter Le!”, I called out, “man, I’m so glad you are here. I wanted to pick out a new shirt for you, just as a thank you for letting me hang out’
‘So, I was wondering what was your shir….”
One sucker punch to the head, followed up by three to the gut and a hard push to the ground.
Smiling. I was smiling while on the ground. In this situation, I could never stop smiling.
The kick came while I was still on the ground. I rolled my legs to block it, and allowed the momentum to lead into a trip. Hunter fell right on top of me, with his elbows colliding on top of my neck. I caught the next pounding elbow and lead him to the floor, climbing on top of his back and pulling him into a choke hold.
He had been in this hold before, and I knew he was going to break out. A timed slip of his right arm rolled onto my shoulders and grabbed my face. With all of his strength, Hunter was able to roll me off of his back and break my choke hold. I had to snap a quick jab to his face before rolling back onto my feet.
The smiles, they just stayed plastered on my face. Laughs instead of breaths, excitement instead of fear. Maybe I was sadistic.
“Is the foreplay done?” I asked. I had to ask.
Hunter didn’t take the insult. Last week I called him a girl, and that simple tease pushed him to charge at me with a reckless tackle. One trip and he was done. Not this time. The sucker punch didn’t succeed as he had hope. Form and technique must take the place of advantage now. He took in his breaths, and position his fist in a direct line that protected his mid chest.
This was not Hunter the jerk anymore. This was Hunter Le, Student Teacher and senior student in the Wing Chun classes.
My face teared into a gashing smile, centering my hands in front of my face, Tiger’s open mouth palm. I had no style that I practice, but for some reason I always natural sway into the Eight Trigram Fist, Baguazhang.
We let the seconds tick by, a cliche showdown stare that waited for the first move. The most naive strike first, yet the most prepared strike first. A ridiculous paradox, but in reality the Catch 22 is true. I wanted this fight to be good, but the truth is I am not good enough to strike first. Everything I do was undisciplined and lame. Nothing that I had would have matched up to a focused mind like Hunters. I am no longer a decent Martial Artist. Now, Hunter was a Martial Artist. Now, I am only a Fighter. Our difference in levels, both in maturity and training, was a distance used to measure continents. I let my pride slip in my breath, and in my mind I surrendered to being naive. After all, I suck. I might as well fight like I suck.
I rushed in.
I couldn’t remember much after the rush in. Vague memories of dodging his punches by veering under his arm, strikes to the back. There were couple flashes of his quick redirection and multiples punches. There were trades between his high kicks and quick jabs, while I would rework my footing and focus on takedowns. Couldn’t recall the memories well. Couldn’t see well with all the sweat dripping into my eyes. Nor could I breathe well as I was hugging my sides while one hand kept me from falling to the floor. I must look like a mess, double over the sparring mat with possible broken ribs.
And Hunter…. He looked good for a bashed in nose and blood dripping from his teeth. The guy was flat on his back, and it doesn’t look like he will get up. I can’t even remember how I knocked him out onto the floor.
Breathing heavy, dripping sweat and smiling. It seemed like today was a good day. Through the smiles and heavy sighs, I was wondering if my luck would keep going as the other two staff members began walking towards me.
“Stand down and take Hunter to the medic office now!”
Hurray for Lady Luck.
Stomping through the dojo was Master Ray Li Long, the Wing Chun Instructor of the dojo. Short, bald, large glasses, a living kung fu movie poster. He was the type of guy you would not take seriously. The staff, however, would always fall in line whenever he walks towards them. The pictures of Master Chu Shong Tin and the dozen of Chinese military awards across the wall, all of the items would never compare to a single knock out punch from this man.
“Move now!”, the man demanded, “it’s bad enough I pay you to lose to someone who doesn’t even go to this school!”
The men rushed to Hunter, grabbed him and dragged him. It looked like the demands of Master Long was their greatest concern compared to Hunter’s comfort. I didn’t take too much care watching where they went afterwards. Most of my attention was just the floor, and finding my breathe. Even the footsteps of the Master walking straight towards him could not prompt my head to rise up.
The blood in my head was pumping, and my breath had gasped even faster. My ignorant look might have been my fatigue, yet I was not indifferent to the point of remaining cold to this man. I still knew his lineage, his grand war stories. One of the Masters of Wing Chun walked up to me, and my heart began to beat even faster.
Master Long crouch on his hunch, and pat my face hard. I fell to the mat, waves of pain and exhaustion wash on top of me.
“Master Jing would be ashamed of what you have been doing to his Baguazhang training,” the old man said.
“Master Jiang doesn’t care what I do while he is resting in his coffin bed.”
The second slap nearly plunged my face into the floor. There was some frustration behind that hit.
“John Jiang was also my friend,” the Master said, “and for his sake I have been been keeping my eye on you. But I have my own students that I must also keep watch of, and it does not help me that you keep irritating my brightest yet most troubled disciple.”
“What did I even do to irritated him?” I said, “I walked in, I stretch, and he punch me in the face!”
“Well, it was not because of what happen today,” he said, “I notice it was mostly the ten to two losing streak so far that got him riddled up.”
I had to stare at his face hard after that statement.
“You’ve been watching?” I asked, “and counting?”
“Yes, I’ve been counting,” he said, “but I needed to watch, and to see how Hunter would respond to your presence. So far they have not been very motivating, and these past few weeks have been very difficult taming his violent rage.”
I slowly got off the floor and sat cross legs. My head began to clear itself from the pain, but my heart was still pounding hard. Someone like Hunter was new to the system of teaching, and it clashed with what I knew from my late Master. The honest truth, I probably felt more frustrated at Master Jiang than Hunter.
“I don’t understand what you are doing,” the words just popped, “you know how it works. Masters find the talented and nurture them. Then comes the dedication and the oaths, along with bone bashing and blood. No one else is allowed in, nor out. No choices allowed, just training and no understanding.’
‘Hunter does not fall into that system. He has a choice to continue or not, and you allowed him to know too much about what we do. He has shown a disastrous past and if he leaves your care then he carries a threat to all of us. Why are you allowing him to be here?”
Master Long, chuckles cracking his face, sat next to me. Five years ago, it was Uncle Ray Long that sat next to me, rubbing my bruised shoulders after my exercise with Master Jiang. That comfort, five years ago, seemed to have been buried with Master Jiang. The present occasion breathed some past relief, but unearth new anxieties.
“It would be hard for you to know what I’m doing,” he attempted to say, “Master Jiang had you grow up in the old ways, and that is all you know. His passing was not only the death of his life, but the death of your lifestyles created by him. Everything I do with Hunter is against the teaching of your old life.’
‘Every possible threat he carries that you have said are all true. Yet Hunter posses a possibility that might prove to be what I need. A proof to what I have been trusting and believing in.”
“What could you believe in now?”
His eyes had a light in them, sparkling with a thought that wanted to burst through.
“That Martial Arts can help save people. A new system of teaching anyone the system, to protect others not only through war and defense but through salvation. For our enemies to be beaten not by the fist but by repentance.”
The old man smiled at me, as if what he said was a revolutionary moment, like the day man first looked at the sun and went blind with awe. But nothing in me felt motivated. Rather, my frustration turned to irritation, and a rage that drove me to ride the bus everyday. The drive that made me smile every time I was in a fight. the freedom of choice had never existed during my training, and I have always detested my late master for denying me that freedom. Now, at last, long after he was dead, the chained life of training still bound me to only choose training, and nothing else.
Which was why I hated Master Long for giving that chance to a violent man like Hunter.
My confusion and sadistic mask can cover my anger for only a few moments before Master Long can finally see what I really desire, and confront me with his gentle words and ideals. I felt sick at the idea he presented. Sick, and betrayed.
“I have known you for too long Kage,” he said, “I know that you have been coming here for Hunter, and that you have been trying to destroy my pupil because he has what Master Jiang never gave you. A Choice.”
Master Long got up from his sit, dragging me with him. My arms ached, but obeyed never the less. That undignified obedience would never leave after Master Jiang melted the habit into me.
“I would like to ask you to leave Hunter in my care,” he said, “I still believe that if he chooses to follow in our ways, he might find a salvation from his past. Please do not vent your frustration on him.”
His fist raised up in the same way Hunter raised his fist. The straight line and intense eyes bore down with greater ferocity than Hunter. And yet, it was an inviting stance, like a spring breeze reminding of the new coming dawn rising after the storm. He has always been Master Long, and yet still always Uncle Ray.
“If you still feel angry at Hunter,” he said, “and at Master Jiang, then come and vent it out to me.”
A smile cross his leather face. Slowly my hands raised up to the Tiger Gate Palm, as if Master Jiang behind my back, pushing my palms up once again. Too much sentimentality happen today for me, yet the smile kept coming back when my mind drifted back to the old days. Still, I wondered how the old paths can survive in these new days.
Both smiles cracked and wide open. Both naive pairs of feet rushed in.
The same ride to the dojo, the anticipation of the same smell. Same tired arms and same ragged breath that was begging to undergo anything grueling, to build my muscles and maybe focus my insane head. The ride kept building up my desire to breathe in the same air of intense training and sweat.
But today had a different feeling. The buses metal pole felt colder, and the hair on my arms tingled and stood straight. There was a taste in my mouth that felt dried out and rotten. But mostly, it was my eyes that noticed the difference in today, as it was shifting from ambulance and police cars, and the red and blue lights flashing against the broken glass doors.
I rushed out of the first stop, sprinting through the streets and pushing anyone in my ways. Even the cops were shoved aside as I ran straight through the doors. I could hear them coming after me, crashing over the glass and calling for my arrest. Men and woman, uniform or not, they all either stood out of my way or were pushed into a wall. They could not stop me from rushing back to his office.
I had a fear, a doubt. Nothing in me wanted to be right about what could be in that room. Hope pushed through my veins, coupled with a fear pounding my ears. I needed to be wrong, needed to see what happen.
Praying. Praying that I would be wrong.
Master Long’s office had the appalling yellow tapes spread out wide across the empty frame that use to have a door. I tore through them, hoping to find no one inside.
No one was inside. A wretched old desk, some broken book shelves, and even a few chairs that somehow got stuck into the wall. No bodies, and no hints of a struggle. Or any hints of anyone getting hurt.
The cops tackled me to the floor, knocking whatever wind I had left in me after my rush to this office. As they were pushing the cuffs onto my hands, I got back my breath that had a taste of relief. One of the officers were mouthing some words to me, probably demanding for my information. All I could do at the time was try to respond back, to whatever he might have been asking me.
“M-my name is Kado “Kage” Acas,” I try to mouth out, “I am a friend of Ray Long, kind of like a guardian Uncle.”
The cops slowly got me to my feet, pushing me towards the entrance lobby. I saw one of the cops jotting down in a leather notebook, and I hope he was writing about me. I wanted him to finish whatever reports he needed to get done. I needed to get out again, to find where Master Long was. My head raced and continue to pound, and the only thing on my mind was to see if he was alright.
If Uncle Ray was alright.
A man in a suit and slacks came over with the keys for my cuffs. I didn’t need to ask who he was, I could guess that he was a detective. Sure enough, after he took off my cuffs the shield came out and the notepad was pulled out. Stereotypes can never escape sometimes.
“Mr. Acas,” He started, “my name is agent Tanabi, and I want to ask you some questions regarding your relationship with Ray Long.”
“I’m good with that,” I said, “but what I am really concern with now is Master Long, and I was wondering if you can take me to him after the questions. I would like to see if he is alright.”
“Well,” paused the detective, “unfortunately we are unable to see him afterwards at this time.”
I couldn’t help thinking that his pause was long. With these people who lived for anything quick as possible, any moments that is slow is completely out of place.
“Agent Tanabi,” I began, “is Ray Long alright?”
The detective closed up his notepad, rubbing the back of his head. The stalling was all bad signs and I just wanted to rip him one now.
“Ray Long has been found dead in one of the back training halls,” He began, “The forensic teams have only arrived an hour ago, so his body has not been moved until the crime scene has been fully set up.”
I saw the man was still talking, but my head had stop working. I stared out past my feet, onto the glass shards spread across the floor. I don’t know if I was staring at my broken reflection, or the moving flashes of the professional black shoes. I was in a daze, with no focus on anything that the world was doing. I don’t know what questions agent Tanabi was asking me right now, or if he was trying to comfort me. No clue came to my mind.
At some point I looked up, and notice agent Tanabi was staring at me. Just staring. No words, no notepad. Only a look. Maybe this guy was more considerate than I give him credit for.
“Why don’t I let you catch your breath,” he said, “give you time and all.”
As he walked out of the door, I called out to him.
“Did he have pressure indention in his chest and head, and the cause of death was trauma to the lungs and brain aneurysm?”
The agent stopped in his tracks, a slow turn as his thoughts rushed to consider me a suspect. My guess was right. I knew I was right. There was only one reason and one person that would send Master Long to his death like this, and his face began to appear in the reflections of the shards of glass under my feet. I crushed them as if I was crushing his face.
“You realize that what you said and what you will say next now makes you a suspect to his death.”
“Anyway to gain retribution, old testament style for whoever did this to him. I know who did this. However, I will not tell a thing.”
My face was flushed with rage, and the blood must have gave some color to my stone face.
“This man is mine,” I said, “and after I finish him you can arrest the both of us, but I am getting him first.”
Agent Tanabi walked over to me, his breath quick as he looked me down.
“Or I could arrest you right now until you tell me a name.”
“Fine with me,” I said, “Then you can arrest me for resisting arrest and later on tonight arrest me for assaulting a civilian, who will have justified evidence and backgrounds that marks him as the prime suspect that killed Ray Li Long.”
Our stares were burning holes into each others faces. I could see the hunting edge in his eyes, ready to take me down, ready to pounce on me. The rage and the irritation was wiping itself all over his compose cop face.
Yet, it did not last long. His face quickly began to relax, a calm that came with practice and precise will. His smile, it was hard for me to admit what he look like. The truth was though, he had the same smile as me.
“I’ll come back to arrest you later,” he said, “something tells me there is a mess here I cannot stop, but I should get ready to clean later.”
He walked back out of the door frame, addressing the rest of the crime scene team to stand down. I couldn’t really tell what just happen, or what he just did. Too many ideas were running through my head. Yet, a part of me had a hope that he knew. He knew what I was going to do, and knew that it had to be done. Nothing within his power was going to stop me, and that was probably the whole truth in the matter. Maybe that is why he was walking down the block.
Maybe I was thinking too much, and that was a distraction now. I needed to get him now, before everything becomes lost.
My revenge, retribution, pride. So many old mythos long past were now on the line of being lost, and I could not let myself see it gone.
I need to get him now, for betraying his Master. For betraying our schools and teachers. He was going to pay with the full fury of the wrath gathered from our past. All the strenght of my training will be directed to the fixated point between his eyes.
He walked up to his car slowly, his keys ringing throughout the parking lot. It was surprisingly not hard to find him. He went to a Tuesday night discount movies with his friends. His show had just ended close to midnight, and he had parked close to the roof of the parking complex. The setup of our fight seemed too perfect. But one can't complain when everything seems to go your way for a small change.
I walked slow, taking care to concentrate on my breathing. My mind and my body were prepping itself for what was to come. This was not going to be a sparring match, or a grudge match. I needed to punish him, a vengeful hammer for the blasphemous crime he had committed. Everything I must do now must be precise.
I had to still slow down and consider what he was capable of as well. Master Long wanted this man to be his successor for his grand ideology, and though his training was incomplete he was still able to kill him. I had to be decisive spirit of vengeance, but I must remember that this man was possible powerful.
I was close to twenty feet away from him, and he still didn't look up, which I took as a promising factor to my calculating thoughts. Maybe he will not be as aware during the night as well. Finally he looked up, and a obvious smug of disgust spread over his face. He contorted his lips, as if trying to stop himself from cussing out a storm. My face remained stable, constantly watching for what he could do.
"You are the last person I would ever want to see on a Tuesday night," he called out, "What do you want? Another dragged out match? Fine by me, cause I would love any chance to rip your..."
"You killed him. Hunter"
His face dropped silent at the whisper of his name.
"Master Long was found dead this morning."
He didn't say a word. He let what I said hang in the air, a noise that needed to be analyzed for a while. We both had faces that settled in a cold stare, searching for a change in action, for a chance to strike out. He did not sweat or seemed distracted by the news of Master Long's death. I knew that he wouldn't. A hunter never gives remorse or sympathy over their past preys.
"You're full of shit!" He shouted at me, "what makes you think that I killed him! You got no proof on you that says I ...."
“He was killed by a Ki induced strike to his chest and head. They are attacks that Master Long had specialized and was trying to teach you."
Hunter' scold stare melted away. All of a sudden his stance had quickly changed from composed to in edge. He took a step back, sweat at last building on his forehead.
"He, he said.... Told me.... That kind of training in secret. How do you know about it?"
“You have been brought into a special circle of training, one that only a few are included. A school for the talented at birth, whose destiny are built in the fires of intense tutelage and training. In order to harness Ki, the great energy within all of us that lows amazing supernatural feats of power. The ability to manipulate Ki is the dream of all martial artist."
"How do you know all this!"
I kept my stare on him, unmoving and constantly watching his motion. My body felt it burning as I pressed forward. Hunter began to walks backward, a desire to flee building in his face. But it was not fear that was moving his body. I was moving him, with my desire to destroy him.
"My name is Kado Acas, secret disciple of Master John Jiang of the Yin style Baguazhang, a council master of the Ki Planes Walk technique.'
'Your Master was Ray Li Long, disciple of Chu Shing Tin, Master of Wing Chun, and he developed the Ki Strike of a Thousand Punches, his signature technique that allowed to also be a council master. A technique that he has not passed down to you. A technique that you killed him for!"
I let my presence push farther back, watching the quake in his feet grow more desperate for an escape. His stare soften to a look of confusion, unwilling to accept that everything I have said was true. The history of Ki, the training of master, and his secret classes with Master Long had spilt his courage of the ground. Perhaps I could have a lucky night again, a victory won by spirit and truth, and as the option beta to fill my mind, I let a smile break upon my face once again.
His movements was almost unpredictable. A quick rush foreword, timed and precise, his fist barely grazing my cheek as I quickly dodge to the right. As he flew passed me, I saw the shimmering air around the fist, and watch as he bashed into a parking pillar, reducing the one story concrete into dust.
His fist was imbued with Ki. I was amazed that he learned that much from Master Long.
"If you know that much, then I don't have to explain everything," he said, “and all the more reason that I should kill you."
Another charge, his fists rushing faster as he test my limited range of movement. A split second duck allowed me to dive under his right shoulder, to roll away from his rush. His fist pushed through the railing, causing it to explode in a rain of pebbles, and as the dust settle a hole the size of a van was left.
I have seen enough of what he can do, and there can be no doubt in my mind that this man must be stop tonight. A man with such rage that has the ability to use Ki is a threat to everyone.
My eyes kept lock on him, focus on the next move. What I had plan must remain precise, assuming I could remember training I haven’t practice in the past five years.
Hunter rushed again, this time with the shimmer around his feet. Ki induced feet to move him faster. A difficult and skillful move. I had to give some acknowledgement as I dodge between his feet. For him to learn this much in a few months showed a vast potential of power. It's a shame that his heart was as rotten as his past.
His legs swung backwards in the hopes of tripping me. When I dodge it, a cloud of dust and dirt filled the parking lot, obscuring my vision. I couldn't see anything in front or back of me, the air stung with all of the pebbles flying around. From the right I heard his feet crunching the ground, so I brought my hands up. If I can't see him, I can't time my movements. I had to take the hit head on.
His punch clashed with my crossed over arms, and I felt the weight of his Ki pushing me against his car. I gasped out in rage and dropped my hands. I felt my bones nearly snapping from the impact. Looking down at my arms I notice that my skin had broken wide open, I could see my tendons pushing out as I flexed my arms.
Hunter has grown strong in his training with Master Long. I could not take another hit from that trained punch, now fully strengthen in Ki. It was now or never.
I took in my breath, and waited.
Hunter rushed again, his arms pulled behind his body, a double fist technique, one of Master Long's first finisher moves. The gleam in Hunter's eyes was sparkling, enjoying a chance to push me far in a corner, a victory that tasted sweet in his mouth. I could see his lips drooling as he leaped towards me with his punches ready.
I took my breath as his fists reached out, grazing my nose.
Hunter slammed his fist into his car, denting the doors until they broke off. The force of the impact sent the car flying off over the hole that he created earlier. I was right in front of him, his fist touching my nose. Yet at the split second of his attack, I disappeared. His eyes were frantic, searching for where I went.
I let out a laugh, behind his back.
Hunter looked over his shoulder, his eyes in shock. But he had no intent on processing what I had done. In rage, he shouted a blood curdling yell as he swung a backhand at me.
I shoved my palm in his face, in front of him.
He flew far, flying past the mounds of concrete dust that he created.
My breathing had become heavy, I never realized just how long it had been since I manipulated Ki. But the sensation was intoxicating, as my body swelled in a feeling of being on fire once again. My blood was burning as my energy surged through me. This power swelled up to the point of exploding inside of me. It felt like a lighting storm racing through every membrane of my cells. It all felt so wonderful.
In truth, I had missed feeling like this.
"The Ki techniques of Master Chu Shing Ti focused on augmenting muscle to gain power," I shouted to Hunter, as he landed eight yards away. I took a deep breath and took a step forward, and found myself looking down at him, face to face.
"But the Ki techniques of Master John Liang," I continued, "focus on speed."
Hunter launched his legs up in a rocket kick, forced up by his Ki. By the time he got back up, I was back to eight yards away from him. I charged behind him, a split second before he could blink, and knock his head with a back fist. I rushed back to his front and began pummeling a few combos to his gut, my hits also imbued with Ki as I tried to remember the tricks that Master Long would sometimes teach me.
Hunter brought both his fist down, in hopes of hammering me into the ground. In a blink, I was already behind him again. I grabbed his neck line and threw him behind me, rushing in to pummel him as he was flying.
I backed off when he landed in the ground.
"After all," I kept going, "there is some great truth in the old saying, 'you can't hit what you can't catch."
Hunter pushed himself up again and tried another double fist a second time. I easily backed away and pushed all my Ki through me. I rushed my body to the left guard railing, then sent it to the far right wall. I pushed myself to the upper ceiling, then to the parking stalls. I pushed everything I had through my body, moving so fast that I left multiple after image clones.
I was rushing my Ki through me, and it made me move so fast that I look like a crowd of a hundred people circling around Hunter. I was everywhere.
This was the magnitude of the technique Master Liang had given to me before he passed away, and his face rushed to me as I continued to race around Hunter. A pang of nostalgia rose within me, and for a moment I almost thought that all of my afterimage clones had the face of my old master.
He gave me this technique, passed down to be entrusted within my own body. His life work was pouring out the more I pushed its abilities through my Ki. My master, and maybe the training of all the masters who had taught him, resurrected through my attack tonight.
Hunter knew Master Long's abilities, but he did not have the same image. To me, he was stealing his secrets rather than uphold a dream laid down by so many other masters.
As I ran closer to him, I did not see Master Long alive again in Hunter. I saw a crook trying his best to deceive. And I was full of rage.
My fists connected to every part of his body, from every possible angle. I pushed my attack into him until my fist were leaving bruises in his gut, and I kept pushing more. I began to hear his bones crack under the pressure of a hundred punches launching all at once, and his pores began to turn red with the blood being pushed out of him. It was only when I could see that he had no strength left to stand, that was when I stopped.
He was in a greater mess then I had ever left him in our past fights. He could barely move his hands or his feet, and by judging his breathing rhythms, I was guessing that I broke everything in his body. I stared back into his eyes, I found the fear still flickering like a dying, fire, but it was slowly giving way to the consuming thought of a doom that I alone had authority tonight. He looked back at me, and saw that I had his death in his hands.
And that was enough for me.
I walked off with Uncle Ray's face in front of me, asking to leave his pupil alone. This treacherous, wretched traitor that had killed his own master with his hands, still was trusted by Uncle Ray to the very end. I don't know what he had entrusted to this broken man, but I will honor that.
As I turn towards the shadows outside the parking lot, I could hear his voice calling out.
"I'll bring them," he said, " I'll bring them all. Not just cops but all of them! My masters that have whispered to me in the dark, the demons that have been haunting the steps of your precious council, I will bring them all to your door, and watch them tear you apart."
I stop long enough to see the red and blue lights reaching us. I had no doubt what he said was true. Someone was pulling his strings, the hands of our true enemy, and even now in the shadows they watching to see what the key players, Hunter and I, would do on the battlefield, ever drawing greater goals of this war closer to a dream come true. Whatever was going to happen will now entangled me, and as I looked at the crumpled mess of Hunter I knew that the one who will lose someday would be me.
I could hear the cars coming up to the parking lot roof. Most must have come because of the obvious disturbance of our fight, but I wonder how much were possible sent by our shadowy adversaries?
As I thought over again and again about what would happen, I smiled as I came to the only conclusive future that this night would lead to. I jumped up on to a guard rail, and look back at Hunter.
"Fine," I said, " if you bring them, then I guess I will beat them. Anyone who comes."
I smiled as I leaned back, letting myself fall into the shadows, and to the war once more.